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Lions vs. Bills snap count observations: Detroit gets long look at Julian Okwara

A look at the playing time distribution from the Lions’ preseason opener.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Here’s a closer look at the snap counts from the Detroit Lions preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Offense:

Quarterbacks

Tim Boyle: 30 snaps (43% of plays)
Jared Goff: 22 (32%)
David Blough: 17 (25%)

As expected, Goff only got one quarter of play before the first-team offense retired for the day. Boyle was the first quarterback in and got significantly more playing time than Blough. Don’t be surprised if Blough and Boyle switch roles in Game 2, though.

Running backs

Jamaal Williams: 22 (32%)
Craig Reynolds: 14 (20%) — 4 special teams snaps (16%)
Jermar Jefferson: 11 (16%) — 5 (20%)
Dedrick Mills: 11 (16%) — 1 (4%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 9 (13%) — 5 (20%)
Jason Cabinda: 4 (6%) — 3 (12%)
Javon Leake: 2 (3%) — 4 (16%)

Craig Reynolds was the story of the game. The Lions’ leading rusher played in 14 snaps despite being added just 24 hours prior to the game. Also impressive, he was in on special teams, as well. Elsewhere, it was a short day for rookie Jermar Jefferson, as the Lions eased him in from an injury.

Tight ends

Alize Mack: 23 (33%) — 10 (40%)
Darren Fells: 21 (30%)
Charlie Taumoepeau: 17 (25%) — 9 (36%)
Brock Wright: 15 (22%) — 13 (52%)
Hunter Thedford: 12 (17%) — 1 (4%)

Alize Mack was the first in among the reserves and stayed in the longest. Unfortunately for this unit, not only did they struggle with blocking, but they added very little to the receiving game. The entire tight end crew combined for two catches and 10 yards. Probably not a good sign for Hunter Thedford that he got the fewest offensive and special teams snaps.

Wide receivers

Tom Kennedy: 36 (52%) — 7 (28%)
Sage Surratt: 30 (43%) — 4 (16%)
Geronimo Allison: 26 (38%) — 6 (24%)
Kalif Raymond: 20 (29%)
Tyrell Williams: 20 (29%)
Javon McKinley: 17 (25%) — 4 (16%)
Victor Bolden: 15 (22%) — 5 (20%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 11 (16%) — 1 (4%)
Darius Jennings: 9 (13%) — 4 (16%)

Interesting that the Lions chose not to use Kalif Raymond on special teams despite him being the current favorite to win both returner jobs. Fortunately for Raymond, none of the players that got return opportunities in the preseason game really shined, except for Javon Leake, who is a longshot to make the roster anyway.

Offensive tackles

Dan Skipper: 47 (68%) — 2 (8%)
Darrin Paulo: 47 (68%) — 2 (8%)
Matt Nelson: 30 (43%) — 1 (4%)**
Penei Sewell: 22 (32%)
Taylor Decker: 22 (32%)

Matt Nelson actually played guard in this game, but I kept him at offensive tackle just for simplicity’s sake.

Guards/centers

Evan Brown: 36 (52%) — 3 (12%)
Logan Stenberg: 30 (43%) — 2 (8%)
Frank Ragnow: 22 (32%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 22 (32%)
Jonah Jackson: 22 (32%)
Evan Heim: 17 (25%) — 3 (12%)
Tommy Kraemer: 17 (25%) — 3 (12%)
Evan Boehm: 11 (16%) — 2 (8%)

Interesting to see the starters kept out of special teams to give the depth players a chance to make an impression in that phase (this was true of all starters). Detroit got a good look at Logan Stenberg, while Tommy Kraemer played a good amount of snaps despite coming off an injury.

Defense:

EDGE:

Julian Okwara: 49 (78%) — 4 (16%)
Robert McCray: 37 (59%) — 7 (28%)
Austin Bryant: 18 (29%)
Romeo Okwara: 11 (17%)
Trey Flowers: 11 (17%)

Julian Okwara played more snaps than any other Lions player on Friday night. That was intentional, per head coach Dan Campbell.

“We felt like he really needed a load. Look, he’s a young guy. He’s a young guy that is still developing and we felt like it was important for him to come out and see how he responded. We felt like he had a good week and then he kind of hit a downturn there for a little bit and we wanted to see if he would bring it back. I haven’t watched the tape, but I did see that he affected the quarterback. He made some plays. He’s like a number of those guys. You can’t forget he’s a second-year player that just needs reps. It was good to see him make some plays, it really was.”

On the other hand, Austin Bryant had his first opportunity to get some competitive NFL action in his career, and unfortunately for him, he played in just 18 snaps. That can’t be a great sign for him.

Curiously, Charles Harris did not log a single snap.

Defensive tackle

Bruce Hector: 41 (65%) — 4 (16%)
Kevin Strong: 34 (54%) — 4 (16%)
Miles Brown: 21 (33%) — 1 (4%)
Michael Barnett: 18 (29%) — 4 (16%)
Alim McNeill: 9 (14%)
P.J. Johnson: 2 (3%)

With so many starters and depth players out at this position, it’s no surprise that the two biggest standouts—Hector and Strong—also played the most in this game. Camp standout Alim McNeill played in just two drives and didn’t make much of an impression. Meanwhile, former Lions draft pick—and recent free agency pickup—P.J. Johnson appears to be deep on the Lions’ depth chart.

Linebackers

Jahlani Tavai: 22 (35%) — 11 (44%)
Anthony Pittman: 22 (35%) — 9 (36%)
Shaun Dion Hamilton: 20 (32%)
Tavante Beckett: 11 (17%) — 11 (44%)
Alex Anzalone: 11 (17%)
Jamie Collins: 11 (17%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 8 (13%) — 10 (40%)
Derrick Barnes: 8 (13%)

The Lions clearly had rookie Derrick Barnes on a snap count as he continues to work his way back from injury, but the man managed to make a big impact on just eight snaps.

“Let’s be smart about it,” Campbell said about Barnes. “We just gave him a handful. I would say for the reps that he got, he did a good job.”

Cornerbacks

Mike Ford: 25 (40%) — 6 (24%)
AJ Parker: 23 (37%) — 12 (48%)
Jerry Jacobs: 23 (37%) — 8 (32%)
Bobby Price: 19 (30%) — 4 (16%)
Nickell Robey-Coleman: 17 (27%) — 1 (4%)
Alex Brown: 11 (17%) — 5 (20%)
Amani Oruwariye: 11 (17%)
Jeff Okudah: 11 (17%)

We didn’t see much of the starting cornerbacks at work, as they got only 11 snaps and saw only two passing attempts from Mitchell Trubisky.

Perhaps the most interesting story from the cornerback group is that Bobby Price shifted from safety to cornerback. Given Detroit’s lack of depth at outside corner following the release of Quinton Dunbar, it appears this move may be permanent for Price, who is also a key special teams contributor.

“He’s a baby fawn right now as it pertains to corner, but he’s so talented,” Campbell said. “We kind of feel like this may actually be the better move for him. To know that - let’s just say hypothetically, you start getting down to cut time and we know he can help us on special teams and he just continues to grow as a corner and develop, but also can play a little safety if you have to have it, that’s pretty valuable.”

Safety

C.J. Moore: 41 (65%) — 10 (40%)
Dean Marlowe: 30 (48%) — 11 (44%)
Jalen Elliott: 24 (38%) — 6 (24%)
Alijah Holder: 22 (35%) — 10 (40%)
Will Harris: 11 (17%)
Tracy Walker: 11 (17%)

After the top three safeties, the fourth safety spot is wide open. C.J. Moore has been running with the second team most of camp, so it’s no surprise he got the longest look amongst this group. At this time, he looks to be the front runner for the job.

Special teams

Randy Bullock: 6 special teams snaps (24%)
Jack Fox: 6 (24%)
Scott Daly: 4 (16%)
Don Muhlbach: 2 (8%)
Zane Gonzalez: 2 (8%)

Randy Bullock received all the field goal attempts during the game, but Zane Gonzalez took over a couple of kickoffs. At long snapper, Scott Daly got a little more play than Don Muhlbach, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.